BACKGROUND: Given the invasiveness of deep brain stimulation (DBS), the effect should prove to be stable over the long-term and translate into an improvement of quality of life (QOL).
OBJECTIVE: To study the effectiveness and QOL up to nine years after the DBS surgery.
METHODS: We treated 25 adult patients with major depression with DBS of the ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule (vALIC). We followed them up naturalistically for 6-9 years after surgery (mean: 7.7 [SD:1.5] years), including a randomized crossover phase after the first year comparing sham with active DBS. Symptom severity was quantified using the Hamilton Depression Scale with response defined as a ≥50% decrease of the score compared to baseline. Quality of life was measured using the WHOQOL-BREF, assessing 5 domains (general, physical, psychological, social, environmental).
RESULTS: Intention-to-treat response rates remained mostly stable from Year 3 to last follow-up (Year 3, 5 and 6: 40%; Year 4: 36%; Last observation: 44%). General, physical, psychological (all P < 0.001) and the environmental (P = 0.02) domain scores increased during DBS optimization and remained stable over the long term. No statistically significant changes were detected on the social domain. Patients scored significantly higher during active than sham DBS on the psychological, social and environmental domains, and trended towards a higher score on the general and physical domains.
CONCLUSION: This study shows continued efficacy of vALIC DBS in depression, which translates into an improvement of QOL providing further support for DBS as a durable treatment for TRD.